An 'OMG' Text from 100 Years Ago
Century-old text-speak? r u cr8z?
U R not going to believe this, but a new order
of knighthood is on the tapis. OMG, right?
If that reads to you like a text between two gamers playing Final Fantasy, you’re not entirely off the mark. It’s more like an exchange between an admiral in the Royal Navy and Winston Churchill, who were playing war games one hundred years ago. So we added the emoticon, BFD. But the British admiral did use “OMG” a century before his latter-day countrymen would be texting it in response to Kate Middleton’s latest choice of hat.
Could the first instance of modern text-speak really have been communicated so very long before the age of 4G, Wi-Fi, and iPhones? Here’s the actual excerpt from the letter sent to Churchill in 1917:
"I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis
— O.M.G (Oh! My God!) — Shower it on the Admiralty!!".
Lord John Arbuthnot Fisher, a celebrated admiral and snappy dresser, was clearly ahead of his time. His own middle name looks like an accidental cramming of letters that Autotext didn’t know what to do with. And the exclamation points, sheesh — there were fewer used when Glee 3D came out. Shower it on the admiralty, indeed.
It will take etymologists a little longer to confirm whether OMG had been used prior to Fisher’s letter, though apparently it was uncommon enough that he had to spell it out for Winston. But the history of using abbreviations and truncated language to communicate with maximized efficiency goes way back. We used it just half a century ago in telegrams and cables, too, since telecommunications companies of the time charged by the number of words (they’ve been gouging us forever). Telegraph style drops pronouns and articles. Stop. Death of language is nigh. Stop. Please. Stop.
New York Times blogger John McWhorter explains that after 200 centuries of oral communication, beginning with grunts in the cave, written language first evolved only about 5,500 years ago as a means of documenting and sharing the spoken word. Now text emerges as a hyper-efficient means of representing not just the written word but, in McWhorter’s words, “fingered speech.” It’s written conversation, an entirely novel form of communication. While highfalutin lovers of the language arts see SMS as just one step ahead of thumping sticks on rocks, it actually represents the progress of a highly advanced society. Don’t sweat it, Shakespeare. You can keep the pen.
Photo: Tetra Images/Alamy
inspire: live a better life
Summer and winter tend to hog all the glory when it comes to travel high seasons. Sure, you want to soak up all the time at the beach you can during the summer, and you just want to escape the cold during the last months of the year.
Who just wants to stand around and watch the red and gold leaves slowly fall from their tree branches to the ground as we move from summer to fall? Instead, take in the changing seasons while you're on the move.
In September, I'll turn 38. I'm at the age now where, when people ask how old I am, it takes me a minute to remember. I don't know if that's because I've already been 37 different ages and it's hard to keep straight which one I am now, or if it's because I'm in denial, or if it's because I am going senile. Maybe a combination of all of the above. Regardless, my 30s have flown by and soon they will be but a memory. So, in an effort to preserve the memory I have left (or at least keep a record of it), and to celebrate what has been an amazing decade so far, here are 30 things that have happened to me in my 30s (and will probably happen to you too):
Traveling doesn't have to be stressful. And what you can fit in your carry-on can make all the difference (and not just a fresh pair of socks), especially when you get that low battery signal.
Volunteering (and these other rituals) might be just as good as exercise when it comes to extending your life.
Use these tricks to set a better tone for the rest of the week.
Whether it involves a food fight, mermaids or a torch-lit procession, people the world over know how to have a good time. Here are some of the biggest, boldest, booziest celebrations around, along with some tips to get the full experience.
Research could mean more effective treatment for human disorders.
An entry a day might keep the doctor away (or at least the shrink).
One woman's shout-outs to daily moments of joy — and how to cultivate them.
Our best health and fitness tips including the one move that tones all, berry news, and more.